Characterizing Microbial Communities among the Berkeley Pit Water Filtration System

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Authors
Held, Benjamin
Advisor
Beck, Ashley
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Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Title
Characterizing Microbial Communities among the Berkeley Pit Water Filtration System
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Presentation
Description
Abstract
Once called the “richest hill on earth”, the Berkeley Pit copper mine in Butte, Montana is now a deadly Federal Superfund site. A treatment plant was opened in 2019 to purify and polish water from the Pit for reintroduction to local waterways. Once water is treated for toxic and heavy metals, the purified water is introduced into Silver Bow Creek, just below the Pit. Purification efforts have been successful in removing toxic materials, but no research has been done on microbial communities. To investigate microbial diversity, water samples were taken from nine sites in and around Butte including: the Berkeley Pit; the water treatment plant; the purified water introduction site; stream locations up to 10 miles west of Butte. The microbiome of each site was characterized through Nanopore 16S gene sequencing, and community composition was compared across sites. Notable results include a high concentration of Acidobacteria found only in the Berkeley Pit, a Bacteroidetes presence in all sites but the Pit, and an increasing concentration of Proteobacteria with distance from the purified water introduction site. This research presents an initial survey of microbial diversity as an indicator of ecosystem health in our invaluable water sources.
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Spring
Department
Biology